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Comedy: Performance & Analysis - TFT00001I

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  • Department: Theatre, Film, Television and Interactive Media
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Michael Cordner
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2023-24

Module summary

In this module you will encounter, analyse, and perform excerpts from a wide range of comedic texts and performances. Through close analytical investigation and practical experiment you will be encouraged to apply theories of laughter and performance analysis in order to gain an understanding of the structures of comedy which underlie plays, stand-up and screen performance across a wide historical range.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2023-24

Module aims

The module aims:

  • To introduce you to the study of comedic writing and performance across media and over extended time-spans
  • To deepen your understandings of why and how different performances have been considered comedic, and the various ways they might provoke laughter
  • To facilitate explorations, through performance experiment and close analysis, of how comic writing functions, and how it is translated into performance

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module, you will be expected:

  • To understand and be able to apply theories and structural analyses of comedic writing and performance
  • To have developed their performance skills in comedy
  • To have expanded their awareness and understanding of comedic performance traditions up to the present day

Module content

The module is based on lectures and seminar/workshops, culminating in a short performance extract and an oral presentation. The lectures will introduce a number of influential theories of comedy, and will also invite analysis of multiple examples of comic texts and performances across stage, stand-up and screen, spanning a wide time period. You will be invited to bring your own tastes and knowledge of comedy to the module, and to engage fully with the examples brought by lecturers and your fellow students. Through comparison and analysis, we will look for the patterns and traditions which underlie comic forms, and you will be invited to explore these further through your own performance and presentation.


Task Length % of module mark
Oral presentation/seminar/exam
N/A 75
Small Group Practical Performance
N/A 25

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Formative feedback and the development of presentation skills are embedded into the seminar-workshop format throughout the semester.

*For summative assessments, students will lose 3 marks per workshop, seminar or practical missed for this module.


Task Length % of module mark
Oral presentation/seminar/exam
N/A 75
Monologue Performance
N/A 25

Module feedback

You will receive written feedback in line with standard University turnaround times.

Indicative reading

Aitken, M. (1996). Style: Acting in High Comedy. New York; London: Applause, 1996.

Bevis, M. (2013). Comedy: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Davis, J. (2017). Farce. London: Routledge.

Lee, S. (2010). How I Escaped My Certain Fate: The Life and Deaths of a Stand-up Comedian. London: Faber and Faber.
McKeague, M. (2021). Comedy comes in threes: developing a conceptual framework for the comic triple humour technique. Comedy Studies. 12:2. 174-185.

Palmer, J. (1987). The Logic of the Absurd: on Film and Television Comedy. London: BFI Publishing.

Palmer, J. (1994). Taking Humour Seriously. London; New York: Routledge.

Wright, J. (2006). Why Is That So Funny?: A Practical Exploration of Physical Comedy. London: Nick Hern Books.

Weitz, E. (2009). The Cambridge Introduction to Comedy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Weitz, E. (2016). Theatre & Laughter. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan Education.

Comedy Studies journal

Performances and texts will differ from year to year, and will be shaped by lecturer and student interests.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.